UN and African Union (AU) ‘solidarity’ mission to South Sudan says that the hope for peace and nation-building remain alive in the war-torn country.
Leading the mission, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed pledged to be a voice for the people of South Sudan and to work with the international community to ensure the recently-declared ceasefire holds.
Mohammed said: “Hope is a commodity of the United Nations. We have to keep that alive. We can never give up on the South Sudanese people.
“That’s why this delegation is here, to constantly remind the world that these problems are not over, they are urgent, and we need to deal with them now.
“That gives me hope that we are seeing that there is a peace accord that could happen and that is another opportunity for South Sudan to rebirth, and to rebirth in a way that takes concrete steps that includes everyone”.
The UN deputy scribe shared deep concern about the suffering of sexual violence victims in the country with President Salva Kiir and government ministers.
She said the victims were among many more survivors of rape and other abuse perpetrated across South Sudan since the brutal conflict erupted in 2013.
Mohammed also stressed the need for a comprehensive peace accord to be signed and concrete steps taken to build confidence to enable investments in development.
The team visited a clinic at the Juba Teaching Hospital, which had already received more than 1,300 women and children seeking treatment for injuries and trauma caused by sexual violence in its eight months of operation.
“What has been the worst part of the conflict in this country, and I think here with the delegation, we heard the pain and anguish of many women, is in relation to gender-based violence and, in particular, rape.
“And this rape doesn’t stop just at women, it also includes children to very, very young ages, and that for us has been abhorrent.
“It is a horror story when you hear it, let alone imagine when you have to go through that,” the UN deputy chief said.
At a meeting with South Sudan’s Council of Ministers, the UN Special Adviser on Africa Bience Gawanas expressed concerns raised by women she met during the visit.
Gawanas said the women lamented their inability to support their families or to return to their homes because of ongoing violence.
“Speaking to the women, seeing them with babies sitting in a camp in their own country, is not a beautiful sight.
“You, as the leaders of South Sudan, have got it in your control to give back to the women and children of South Sudan their dignity and humanity.
“And I am very confident you will be able to do that,” the UN envoy stressed. (NAN)
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